Peter Van Buren
You hear the expression “lesser of two evils” when people talk about how they will vote in November.
Poll after poll shows a growing number of voters saying they will vote negatively – they’re against Hillary, so they’ll hold their nose and vote Trump, and vice-a-versa.
It is also likely a large number of discontented voters will simply stay home on Election Day. Both candidates are among the most unpopular and least trusted in American history. One of them will end up in the White House.
How did we get here? How is it that the only two mainstream candidates left standing are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
Hillary Clinton: All Appetite
Hillary Clinton is the archetypal 21st century candidate’s candidate, a fully formed tool of the oligarchy. Whether she wins or loses in November, she is the model for the next era of American politics.
Clinton sees The People as some mass to be pandered to and manipulated. She is simply a machine to gain power for its own sake (and money.) The One Percent tagged her early as exactly who they want to see in charge, someone who could be bought off, and she was nice enough to create her own vehicle to allow them to conveniently do that — write a check to the Clinton Foundation. As a bonus, it was also tax-deductible.
If Hillary did not exist, it would have been necessary for the wealthy who control most of America to create her.
The Once and Future Hillary
That wasn’t necessary, as Hillary Clinton had spent her entire life preparing for this.
By all accounts an intelligent, committed, feminist coming out of law school, she quickly fell into the TV classic 1950s role of dependent spouse, as “first lady” of Arkansas when Bill was governor, and of course, in the White House. Sure, she was given health care to mess around with during Bill’s first term, but when the issue crashed and burned, her role was reassigned to make safe speeches calling for more rights for women and girls. Safe in that she was allowed to pound the pulpit for those ideals in enemy territory like China, but not in countries like Saudi Arabia.
She was the good wife. And good wives look the other way when hubby strays a bit, even to the point of having sex in the Oval Office. And that’s because Hillary knew the Democratic Party would owe her for not blowing things completely apart in a messy divorce certain to reveal even more bad news.
First up was a Senate seat, a springboard for her presidential run.
In November 1998 four-term incumbent Democratic New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan announced his retirement, opening a seat in a Solid Blue state. In early 1999 the Clinton’s bought a house in Chappaqua, New York (with “donated” money), all so that by September she was eligible to run as a “New Yorker.” While in the Senate Hillary was served up prime committee slots, and voted the safe votes (the Iraq War vote was safe at the time, of course, as everyone wanted to go to war. Nobody foresaw that one bouncing back the way it did.)
By the time the George W. Bush era finally gave up, everyone on earth knew the next president was going to be a Democrat.
So 2008 was going to be Hillary’s big moment, the first woman president, the one to clean up the Bush wars, who knows, maybe even score a Nobel Prize. But Hillary misread the degree of change Americans wanted, and in return for putting her plans on hold for another cycle or two, she settled in for four years as Secretary of State as a consolation prize. And have you heard? She sat in the Situation Room the night bin Laden was killed!
Taking No Chances
As the 2016 election approached, the Clinton’s took no chances.
The favors Hillary accrued as Secretary of State via the Clinton Foundation were transformed into money and support. As she pretended not to run, Clinton packed her campaign war chest with big-money speeches. A happy “listening tour” (remember the Scooby Van?) was created to show everyone how human Hillary was. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz lined up the Democratic Party machinery. Designated schulp Martin O’Malley was set up as the loyal opposition so Hillary could create the appearance she was running against someone in the primary.
Then, oops, Bernie.
When Bernie Sanders came out of nowhere (as had Obama in 2008), Clinton again misread or did not care about how much change many Americans sought. As many long-suspected, and as we all now know after the hacks of the Democratic National Committee servers, the Party machinery was brought to bear against Sanders. The mainstream media was lined up to belittle, marginalize and ignore him. The millennial vote Sanders inspired was largely written off by Clinton. Bernie was reduced to a sad, little old man helping nominate someone at the Democratic Convention he clearly loathed.
Add to that the flood of disdainful talking points that prepped Democratic pundits spewed forth, announcing support for Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein is near-treason. A voter’s well-reasoned, act-of-conscious decision to support one of the two is held as nothing less than support for the Dark Lord.
The Democrat machinery and the people who control it made Clinton the inevitable candidate. There was no one else who ever had a chance. America was told to suck it up and vote for her, whether they liked it or not.
Trump Stumbles into His Role
The Republican Party fully misunderstood its constituency, thinking one of a spray of robo-candidates would be good enough to simply run as Not Obama, Not Hillary.
Each candidate on offer fell into the mold of ultra-mainstream, such as the why-am-I-here Jeb Bush, or the nut case category with Ben Carson. Ted Cruz couldn’t make up his mind, and vacillated between the two options. The plan was likely to meld the two wings into a ticket and scoop up as many conservative votes as possible.
Whatever Trump may have really been thinking when he started his campaign, he stumbled on to something hiding in plain sight. Large numbers of Americans, mostly white and formerly middle class, were angry. They were really angry. They had been left behind as the country changed, left like an audience at a magic show who saw the trick done, but couldn’t for the life of them figure out how it had happened. These people knew they were getting poorer, they could not find decent jobs, and they wanted someone to blame.
He told them it was not their fault. It was because of Obama, it was the Chinese, it was the Muslims, the Blacks, the Democrats, NAFTA, immigrants, refugees, whoever they feared and hated, whatever they wanted to hear. He told them their racism and hate was valid, and gave them a place to express it as no one in the mainstream had ever before done in a modern campaign.
Trump became a predator sniffing the wind. When he sensed people fed up with Hillary’s scamming for donations, he said he was self-funded. When he sensed people wanted change, he said he was an outsider. When voters tired of Hillary’s lawyerly answers and outright lies, Trump came out as plain spoken, even rude and crude — what candidate before had ever spoken of his penis size on the national stage?
Weakness overseas? Bomb the f*ck out of them. Worried about China? Renegotiate. Tired of terrorists? Torture them, maybe kill their families. Problems with the economy? I can fix it, says Trump, and he didn’t need to explain how because while no one really believes it, they want to believe.
Whole races and religions were condemned. People were bored with long think pieces and empty political language. Trump dished things out in 140-character Tweets. Voters made up their minds with the same tool they use to follow Beyonce.
As a sign of Trump’s populism, and his popularity, he has garnered more small-dollar donations for the GOP than any other Republican candidate in history, and all that only since he seriously started asking for contributions in June. “He’s the Republican Obama,” Politico quotes one operative about Trump monetizing his Republican supporters.
Like nearly every person in the media, and the Democratic and Republican parties, I suspect when he first started out Trump never expected the ball to bounce as it did. Running was an ego thing, an elaborate prank, performance art, something maybe good for business. No such thing as bad PR.
But as others wrote him off, including the oligarchy, Trump learned.
Every time someone said “well, that’s the end of Trump” after some outrageous statement, Trump learned he needed only to top himself in the next sound bite. People wanted him to be racist, they wanted him to be larger than life, and they didn’t care if he lied or exaggerated. Most of the media, still reporting his latest statement (birther, debates are rigged) as a bad thing, still don’t get it.
Face It: They Are Us
America will have Trump or Clinton in the White House for the next four years because they are us.
Clinton is the ultimate end product of a political process consumed by big money. She is the candidate of the One Percent. She believes in nothing but the acquisition of power and will trade anything to get it. The oligarchy are happy to help her with that.
Trump is the ultimate Frankenstein product of decades of lightly-shaded Republican hate mongering. He is the natural end point of 15 post-9/11 years of keeping us afraid. He is the media-genic demagogue a country gets when it abandons its people to economic Darwinism, crushes its middle class, and gives up caring what happens to its minorities.
Both candidates are markers of a doomed democracy, a system which somewhere in the past reached its apex and has only now declined enough that everyone, not just the boiling frogs, can see where we are. They’re us, people. We watched this happen, and we’ll be stuck trying to live with the results.
This post originally appeared on Peter’s blog on November 1, 2016.
6 thoughts on “Trump or Clinton: They are Us!”
I can’t argue with most of Mr. Van Buren’s thoughts/observations. Undoubtedly Trump would not have arrived where he is–a plausible victor on November 8–if an “audience” for racism, xenophobia, etc. didn’t already exist to lap his vile spewings up. Madam Clinton’s inevitable, baked-in-the-cake candidacy reminds me of 1968. Gene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy were on everybody’s lips, but the Democratic Party coughed up a hairball named Hubert Horatio Humphrey as its guarantor of continuity of the war in Southeast Asia. Today’s Dems prove their moral bankruptcy no less firmly by coughing up Hillary. Her donning of the Commander-in-Chief jacket–the White House tailors will have to make some modifications–guarantees the continuation of this insane Perpetual War Against Islam (yes, I insist on characterizing it that way) with its guarantee of ongoing blowback. And of course the Demonize Russia Campaign gets nastier by the day. Neither of these hideous mainstream candidates represents the best interests of ordinary people. That would require embracing verboten–downright un-American, really–concepts like world peace and economic justice. But are these candidates really “us”? Count me out!!
I resent and reject the notion that the objective-case pronoun “us” includes me, as implied by Peter van Buren. I did not vote for either of these corrupt, amoral, right-wing, homicidal, clinically psychotic gasbags. I voted to oust them and everyone like them from the public offices they have either already disgraced for decades (i.e., You-Know-Her) or will disgrace should they ever obtain public office in the first place (i.e., All-About-Him). I voted for Dr, Jill Stein of the Green Party as can any other American voter in 47 states, more than enough to win an electoral college majority.
If any of you voters want these worthless ciphers out of office, then don’t vote them into office in the first place. Pick an Anti-Incumbent Party candidate. Call him or her the Green Party candidate this time around. Call this party by some other name the next time around. Just vote out of office anyone currently occupying a public office. Get it? Then vote these people out of office the next time around. Rinse and Repeat every election cycle. We Americans don’t need a constitutional amendment establishing de jure term limits. We voters can simply establish de facto term limits by never voting for anyone currently in public office. Give someone else a chance. Then give them the boot, too. America needs nothing more than an Anti-Incumbent Party by whatever name we wish to give it. We do not have to keep validating the Ruling Corporate Oligarchy’s selected puppet pretender. I didn’t. The rest of you don’t have to do it either, unless you want to. But if you fall for this tag-team travesty of an endless travelling circus, then kindly accept responsibility for what you get and don’t include me in your company. I didn’t do it. You did.
“During the intervals between elections the political existence of the citizenry is relegated to a shadow citizenship of virtual participation. Instead of participating in power, the virtual citizen is invited to have ‘opinions’: measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them.” — Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
The Circus that Wouldn’t Leave Town
From time to time, the circus once arrived,
Quadrennial in its appointed rounds.
Yet somehow it has artfully contrived
To never leave — bombarding us with sounds
And sights so lurid and insistent that
Whatever tripe The Candidate expounds
Begins to clog the arteries with fat,
Inducing aneurisms in the soul
Through endless touting of a puerile spat.
Consultants endlessly conduct a poll
Which tells us what they wish for us to hear:
That folks like us will play our scripted role.
Commercial ads have made that crystal clear.
If only fright were all we had to fear
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2012
Michael.. You left little doubt about your feelings and I am sure many agree with those feelings. My wife voted for Bernie in spite of my efforts to explaiin that Green was a party that needed support to stay on the ballot for he future while Bernie just represented a temporary love affair.
Wall street has voted today, Monday, before the election and they voted for Clinton. the market is up because the Wall Street has decided that Clinton will indeed beat Trump.
Tighten your belts, you 99%’s, for the regime change wars
“traven”–Yes, I think the handwriting’s pretty clearly on the wall for Clinton’s victory. Wall $treet votes for a smooth continuity of Business As Usual, and that’s what Hillary represents. But how smoothly can she actually govern, if GOP retains enough control of Congress to obstruct her every inch of the way, perhaps more vigorously even than they’ve obstructed Obama? We desperately DO need regime change, but these wretched candidates have NOTHING to offer the “99%,” of that I am certain.